Will we need IT professionals pretty much indefinitely?

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by Slo-mo, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    My friends son (17) wants to do computing at uni. Smart move or not? When I was younger (1990s!) the thought was that because code doesn't 'rot' in the same way physical objects do, ultimately we would need far fewer IT professionals.

    Of course that all ignored the boom in home computing, the web , smartphones and everything else. So is learning to code pretty much a meal ticket for life? Or would civil or mechanical engineering be a better bet.
  2. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank Ridin' a Stutz Bearcat, Jim

    The kid should do what he's most interested in. People should not be planning their lives around the uncaring vicissitudes of the capitalist wage economy.
  3. cybershot

    cybershot Well-Known Member

    He should do what he wants to do.

    Programmers are going to be needed for a long while yet.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  4. magneze

    magneze mnemonic beef

    "the thought was that because code doesn't 'rot' in the same way physical objects do, ultimately we would need far fewer IT professionals."
    I've never head of this before.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  5. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    In theory, I'd totally agree with you. Trouble is, we are in an uncaring capitalist wage economy and I don't see that changing and if the guy ever wants to have a half decent life he needs to plan his life around that.

    Shit, isn't it?
    teuchter likes this.
  6. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    Early 90s thinking.

    Once a firm had 'gone over' to computers, that would be it. You could of course find another firm still using typewriters and filing cabinets, but there were only a limited number of such firms, hence eventually we would need far fewer IT professionals.

    Hopelessly naïve in retrospect :D
    dylanredefined and Mr Smin like this.
  7. cybershot

    cybershot Well-Known Member

    The kid sounds intelligent enough if the subjects being touted are anything to go by. I wouldn’t worry too much. Let him make his own life choices.
    SpookyFrank and Slo-mo like this.
  8. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    Fair point. I should probably butt out. :D
  9. Mr Smin

    Mr Smin Registered Luser

    Help him do some research about what exactly he is signing up for (syllabus), and what jobs it might lead to. Some computer jobs don't need a degree at all, others claim to need a degree but don't really, and still others want people who studied science or maths.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  10. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Coders and IT pros are always going to be needed, but you have to be careful not to end up an expert in a technology that turns out to be a dead end.

  11. Reiabuzz

    Reiabuzz Banned Banned

    Yep.. very important to keep abreast of industry trends. It’s such a fast moving field. That said the rise of template driven systems such as squarespace and Wordpress will naturally reduce the need for developers. Anyone can now produce a slick looking site with absolutely no coding skills.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  12. sleaterkinney

    sleaterkinney Well-Known Member

    If he's into computers and coding already then go for it, but you have to be into it to make a career out of it, there were a lot of drop outs out of my course (in the 90s). It's tougher these days to make a career out of it.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  13. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    You can, but once you need to break out of the template - or fix something that's going wrong - you'll need those skills.

    If i was starting over now, I'd look to become a Wordpress expert.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  14. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    I'm a software engineer and I have no concerns about work going away in my working lifetime, 30-something years. It's a very good field to work in if it's something you enjoy.

    Good software engineers (who maybe wouldn't touch Flash, tbf) apply fundamental principles and broadly applicable modern techniques to a problem, and they're basically transferable across platforms, languages and so on. To look at my actual work of the last n years, you would immediately say I'm an Android specialist, but I do all sorts of stuff. I certainly don't expect Android to be putting bread on the table forever. However I don't worry too much because it shouldn't be a problem to adapt to something else. Recruiters with technology tunnel vision are a problem, but perhaps best avoided anyway.

    They reduce work for someone, old school web professionals to some extent, but not really software engineers.
    paolo, Slo-mo and bimble like this.
  15. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Anyway tell your son that, whilst it's a smart move, he should be thinking from the off about making himself useful. So many graduates are not. They go to uni and they attend lectures and they come out with some basic academic stuff and then can't be employed without (a) being socialised and (b) being walked through the stuff that makes them capable of producing code in an actual business environment.

    So don't be one of those. Do a course that incorporates a year in industry. Go to a university that enables those connections. Go to a university where he's going to have the best chance of a rounded life (and the associated personal development) outside of straight computer science.

    Do all that, meal ticket for life.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  16. Reiabuzz

    Reiabuzz Banned Banned

    I’d go for squarespace. I’d be interested to know others’ thoughts on this actually. It’s not actually difficult to plug in pre written code into the templates to customise them. Just a copy and paste jobbie.

    A mate of mine does this for 80k or so a year.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  17. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Wordpress is far more popular (and configurable) than Squarespace.

    Squarespace vs WordPress – Which one is better? (Pros and Cons)
  18. bimble

    bimble noisy but small

    If I had my time again (and was really clever) I'd maybe go for data science, if there's one thing there's going to be loads of in the coming decades its data, and someone's got to be there herding it.
  19. Reiabuzz

    Reiabuzz Banned Banned

    This bit..

    Is factually incorrect.
  20. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    There's lots of work in 'big data' but I wonder how long until it's automated out or at least the lower levels of it got rid of by the products of the other big area, machine learning. That too may start to eat itself, to a lesser extent. I don't know, I'm no expert in either.

    I feel work associated with engineering fundamentals - design, architecture, translating customer requirements - is probably safe indefinitely.
    Slo-mo, RubyToogood and bimble like this.
  21. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    Not mine, honest guv! ;) :D

    Me and his mum just had a good laugh!

    Thanks for the good advice guys, shared :)
    mauvais likes this.
  22. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Oh yeah :D
    Slo-mo likes this.
  23. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    One more thing: civil/mechanical engineering - also potentially a job for life, but perhaps more rapidly specialist, and the best or biggest opportunities can be tied to national fortunes and circumstance. For example if you wanted to pursue aeronautical engineering, the obvious work is Airbus or BAES, but they're big monolithic employers and could bugger off. The whole aerospace industry could effectively disappear out of the UK.

    Software engineers and computer scientists are highly transferable, locally and globally - so have to worry about this a lot less.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  24. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Wordpress is still infinitely more popular and flexible than Squarespace. I know which one I'd prefer to spend time working with.
  25. t0bytoo

    t0bytoo Well-Known Member

    A lot of people working in software development these days came out of college with unrelated degrees. Computer science at uni isn't a pre-requisite to working in IT. But it is a very good foundation. And I think it's important for youngsters to have an understaning of what goes inside that smartphone or ipad.

    Learning to code is a good meal ticket. You have to constantly stay on top of new stuff, and that can be a pita. But it can also be fun. I spend a chunk of time each year learning something new. I often don't even use the new skills, but I enjoy the process and it keeps me aware of what's going on.

    Might be that in the future we won't be writing as much *code* as we do these days, but the thinking process will be the same. We will just be assembling pieces together.
    Slo-mo and mauvais like this.
  26. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    I wouldn't say I write less code than ever before, but what we do is constantly elevating, and this will probably continue forever. For example, I used to write a lot of parsers, XML and so on. Now you don't write any, it's just a one-line invocation of a bog standard JSON library or whatever.

    Ditto so many things: memory management, UIs, HTTP, web platforms etc, all the boilerplate you had to do in Java. Now we spend that time either solving something more interesting, or dealing with all the other complexities that other changes (e.g. mobile device fragmentation) have introduced.
    paolo likes this.
  27. Gromit

    Gromit International Man of Misery

    AI will be designing code soon enough.

    Ain’t none of you seen Terminator?
  28. brixtonblade

    brixtonblade Well-Known Member

    IT professional doesnt necessarily just mean coding.

    I think there might be less demand for "coders" but still lots of need for people with a rounder set of skills - infra, networking, security etc as well as coding. I think there'll be less scope for people to only do dev work.
    alex_ likes this.
  29. alex_

    alex_ Well-Known Member

    This is why learning the theory is important, i’d advise them to look at a bcs ( British computing society) accredited apprenticeships ( which is what I’d do if I was doing this again ).

    As other people have said focus on a specific product is not good unless it is part of learning the theory. Technologies will come and go, the theory will hold them in good stead for decades.

    I’d be very, very wary of computer science ( or really any tech ) degrees from lower end universities. I’ve interviewed kids who’ve spent the best part of 40k on their degrees and knew fuck all, if they do want to do a degree doing something with a placement is very sound advice.

    Re data science - it still all requires programming / computer science.

    brixtonblade likes this.
  30. brixtonblade

    brixtonblade Well-Known Member

    Agree about the placement...

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